Twelve Tribes

Midwest Pandemic

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Twelve Tribes' 2006 album, Midwest Pandemic, represents a rare example of intelligence meeting inspiration in hard music. Their words deliver thought-provoking and politicized opinions about America's quickly withering social fabric; their sounds comprise eclectically arranged, melodically informed post-hardcore which nevertheless refuses the lure of commercial gimmickry. Although, given such volatile -- if mostly positive -- subject matter, widespread commercial acceptance would hardly be an option for Twelve Tribes anyway. After all, the common-sheep-consumer tends to categorically reject the fearsome specter of individual thought in order to bask in soft-minded acquiescence to institutional mind-control (social, economic, governmental, etc.). And since Twelve Tribes don't make music for sheep, their following will likely remain selective, despite the excellent hooks contained in the likes of "Pagan Self Portrait" (featuring unusual and inventive riff stutters), "History Versus the Pavement" (with its keening siren guitars melodies), and even the instrumental "Monarch of Dreams" (featuring dramatic ascending harmonic intensity). Vocalist Adam Jackson proves himself versatile enough to tackle both furious screaming and melodic singing, but generally lets his lyrics shout louder than any vocal gymnastics ever could. And even though his bandmates show equal restraint with their technical abilities, that's not to say they don't shine through regardless, while ever keeping the focus on the songwriting itself during punishing outbursts like "Televangelist," "Librium," and the bulldozing title track. All these positives culminate in the eight-minute, three-part "The Recovery," which submits a radical treatise for America's last-ditch soul salvation, but never resorts to metal's usual apocalyptic exaggeration to get its earnest but dire message across. Which brings us to the surprising realization that Twelve Tribes manage to convey a powerful impact without the bombastic approach normally relied upon by many of their peers -- and that's yet another signal of their talent.

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